The Obama administration has granted asylum to a Mexican woman who was sexually abused and severely battered by her common-law husband. The decision, in a closely watched case, clarifies the exacting standard that domestic abuse victims must meet to win asylum.
Department of Homeland Security officials found that the woman had proved that she could not expect the Mexican authorities to protect her from the violence and murder threats of her attacker, and that she could not safely relocate anywhere in the country to escape him.
During decades of abuse, the man repeatedly raped her at the point of guns and machetes, and once tried to burn her alive, according to court documents in the case in San Francisco.
Based on a favorable recommendation from Department of Homeland Security officials, an immigration judge on Aug. 4 approved asylum for the woman, who is known only as L.R., because asylum cases are confidential. Her lawyers announced the decision on Thursday.
The outcome of the case of L.R., 43, brings new clarity to asylum law after almost 15 years of arcane and tangled litigation, when claims from domestic abuse victims were regularly dismissed by immigration judges.
“The Department of Homeland Security has recognized that asylum should be available to women who have suffered domestic violence and whose governments won’t protect them,” said Simona Agnolucci, a lawyer who represented L.R. “Now the day finally came when the department said these are the criteria required to show a case for asylum.”
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Simona Agnolucci specializes in complex litigation, including intellectual property matters, securities cases, and commercial disputes. She has represented major brokerage companies and investment advisors, as well as cutting-edge Internet and smartphone companies. Ms. Agnolucci has litigated cases before state and federal trial courts and has substantial experience in appellate matters across various substantive areas of the law. Ms. Agnolucci has an active pro bono practice, in which she primarily represents women fleeing gender-based persecution.